The kids and grandkids have gone back to school, crops are starting to turn a little brown, and the nights are cooling off, so fall is here and it’s time to start planning that colorful fall “Harvest Trip”! Fall also means beautiful sunsets as the dust and corn husks created a haze that would glow a blazing orange as the sun went down. It’s also the perfect time of the year for vegetables, fruits, and other home-grown delicacies available at roadside stands and farmer’s markets.
Follow the Mississippi River
Today there are unlimited trips and events that celebrate the Harvest Tradition and wonderful colors with the changes of the leaves and foliage. One of my favorites is following the Mississippi River from Redwing, MN down to Dubuque, IA or even farther South. Not only the colors from the foliage, but the rolling hills that almost feel like mountains, and the unique towns and heritage along the way. Remember “Grumpy Old Men” with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon? It was based on Wabasha, MN along the great river road, but most of the film was shot in St Paul, Faribault, and other locations although Stillwater was used. However, the small town charm, the rich heritage of food and events, as well as the beautiful scenery is well worth the drive. You can actually start at Lake Itasca which is the start of the Mississippi River and travel the entire 3000 mile trip to the Gulf of Mexico on the Great River Road. More info is available here.
Every state has some type of fall festival but if you have a specific region that you want to explore outside of those featured here, visit the website of your local state tourism department and you will be able to cruise through the events there.
Aside from the beautiful colors of fall foliage, cranberries provide a brilliant color addition in the sparkling blue waters. Several states have harvest and festival activities with Wisconsin promoting some of the best. They actually have a Cranberry Association and you can find the events and best times to visit here.
My wife and I have become devoted wine “gatherers” as we found that collectors tend to keep their wines in a controlled cellar and bring them out at the optimum aged period of time according to the grape varietal, year, and terroir (the region of the land, soil, and how weather affects the area).
I would suggest not going to a major wine region such as Napa, Sonoma, Temecula, or Washington in the fall. Everyone wants to go there so the traffic is horrible, the lines are insane, and the wineries are busy trying to harvest and not wanting the overflow. Unless you are a member of a winery club and they have a Harvest Festival that you can get parking and a special event program for, I would stay away. We found it was better to go in the off-season especially during “Mustard Festival” time when there is less traffic and lots of fun activities.
Fall Foliage Suggestions
Everyone has their favorite part of the country for a fall trip, and every state advertises the best foliage, however, a few seem to pop up on almost every list.
- The Great Smoky Mountains has a wonderful array of colors and scenic trips as well as Aspen, Acadia National Park, and Glacier National Park. You can find some great information at the National Park Service Website
- Fodors has been well known for travel tips over the years and last year published their top 10 best fall trips. Keep in mind they suggest the best place to stay is a hotel or bed and breakfast, we know better! Find a local campground at www.allstays.com
- The Weather Channel has a Fall Foliage Guide Map that shows the peak times throughout the US.
Wherever you decided to go, get off the beaten path, take your time, and enjoy all that nature has to offer. And make sure you do a little prep work on finding a campground that is not completely full, knowing when parks and roads close for the season, and knowing what type of roads you might encounter that are tight or have hairpin turns.
About the author:
Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club
For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.
RV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.
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